Officials say apple cider is safe to enjoy

Capital News Service
LANSING — Apple cider seekers shouldn’t be deterred this fall by what one expert is calling a unique, isolated incident of tainted cider in St. Johns. “The recent events at Uncle John’s are very unusual and very rare for our apple cider industry in Michigan,” said Bob Tritten, an MSU Extension fruit educator who has worked with cider mills  for nearly 30 years. “Cider has had a safe track record over the last 15, 20, years and this is an isolated incident.”
The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a consumer advisory for  Uncle John’s Cider Mill on Oct. 27 after finding Shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacteria during a random department inspection.

Federal curb of animal antibiotic meant to protect human health

Capital News Service
LANSING — For the first time, federal authorities are banning an antibiotic in livestock because of fears that some human diseases are becoming resistant to it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban on cephalosporin will apply only to uses not specified by the drug’s label. “Most antibiotics were developed for use in humans in the first place,” said Steve Halstead, the state veterinarian at the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Many have other uses not stated on their labels, often due to a lack of research funding to ensure the safety of those uses. Cephalosporin is most commonly used to treat human infections of the skin, respiratory tract and urinary tract.

Michigan farmers eye exports to Colombia

Capital News Service
LANSING — Colombia could be the next big market for Michigan agricultural products, as representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development tour the South American country, looking to capitalize on recent free trade agreements and to open new markets for state-grown products. Department Director Keith Creagh said Michigan wants to increase its global market share for agricultural commodities, a sector that has seen exports grow 10 percent between 2009 and 2010. Jamie Zmitko-Somers, the department’s international marketing manager, said Colombian buyers are enthusiastic about importing more Michigan commodities like apples, soybeans, blueberries, cherries, corn and dry beans. “What we’ve heard from buyers is they want American products and they know that Michigan has a reputation for high-quality produce,” Zmitko-Somers said. Over the next 15 years, Colombia will eliminate several tariffs on U.S. agricultural products.

State pushes to recruit farm workers

Capital News Service
LANSING – The state is urging farmers to use its recruitment system to find migrant and seasonal labor to harvest such crops as cucumbers, cherries and strawberries. The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Workforce Development Agency are promoting what they say is the underused Agricultural Recruitment System. The push to find workers through centralized job postings comes despite the state’s high jobless rate. The number of unemployed people in the state is 431,490, which is 0.8 percent higher than the national rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But agricultural employment specialists say the farmers are still seeking seasonal labor.